Unconquerable: Satsuki Kiryuuin Character Analysis

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Kill la Kill

Content Warning: This article contains images and discussion that are NSFW


Introduction

“Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars.”

Satsuki Kiryuuin

Satsuki Kiryuuin is my favorite character in Kill la Kill and one of my top 10 favorite female anime characters. She is an important character who, for a good portion of the show, presents as an antagonist. I have always loved characters who switch sides one way or another, as well antagonists and anti-heroes who see a lot of positive personal growth. There’s no mistaking Satsuki is a hot, sexy anime girl, but there’s so much more to her than that. Today’s post contains a thorough exploration of Satsuki’s character, beginning with a recap of her story in the series. If you already know enough about that, feel free to skip to the other sections. With further ado, let’s begin.


Satsuki’s Story

“Those who lack resolve are incapable of even wiping away their own tears.”

Satsuki Kiryuuin

Satsuki’s mother Ragyo is not human, but a creature made of and controlled by alien organisms called life fibers. When Ragyo married a man and gave birth to a child, it was human. Ragyo tried to infuse her new baby (Satsuki) with life fibers, but the effect was relatively small. Satsuki did not become strongly bound to the life fibers. We don’t know much about what Satsuki’s like was like as a baby and toddler, but since her good father was still around, it might not have been so bad.
But when Satsuki was five, something happened that changed the course of her life forever.

Ragyo gave birth to a second daughter, and almost immediately subjected her to dangerous experiments to make her merge with life fibers. The baby could not withstand the experiments, and supposedly died. Satsuki’s father, Dr. Matoi, could not stand it anymore. He faked his death and disappeared to start a rebellion faction to fight Ragyo. But before he left, he told Satsuki everything. Being highly intelligent and independent, Satsuki understood most of what she was told, and agreed to stay with Ragyo, dreaming of the day when she could also become a rebel.

Even early in elementary school, Satsuki was already planning for big things and striving to grow stronger. This is evident in the scene when she talked with her cousin Jakuzure at the sandbox in a certain flashback scene. Satsuki wanted to start with finding allies, and they had to be the best of the best. She already had Jakuzure. In middle school, she defeated and recruited a powerful young gang leader named Sanageyama. Soon after, she did the same with Ira Gamagori, the human shield, and Inumuta, the hacking master and analytical genius .

By the time Satsuki was high school age, she had four trusted and extremely powerful allies. That’s when she started executing her plan. This amazing girl had never let on a sign of her true feelings or intentions, so Ragyo trusted in her. Per Satsuki’s request, the mother gave her an entire school to manage and experiment with. This is the academy where most of Kill la Kill happens. Satsuki’s goal was to use survival of the fitness methods to produce and sharpen her own army of students. Most of them would be powerful, wearing uniforms that had small percentages of life fibers in them. At the right time, Satsuki could use this army to fight Ragyo. In the name of that goal, she ruled the school with an iron fist.

Kill la Kill’s main character, Ryuko, put a kink in Satsuki’s plans when she arrived at the academy looking for revenge on whoever killed her father. She was disrupting the whole school. Satsuki had information from her family about Ryuko’s father, and she used this to manipulate Ryuko into becoming her “enemy” who would fight fierce battles with her. The point of that was to make them both stronger. But Ryuko was already incredibly strong, and she had a 100% life fiber garment called a kamui. Satsuki felt like she must do something to stay ahead in the game.

Ever since she could remember, Satsuki was promised her own Kamui, a monstrous life fiber garment called Junketsu. She was instructed to wait until a certain time to try handling it. Satsuki being Satsuki, however, donned Junketsu and learned to use its powers all on her own. Most normal humans go berserk or die when trying to control a 50% life fiber uniform, but Satsuki could survive wearing a 100% version, even as it fed off her blood. Thanks to Junketsu, Satsuki was evenly matched with Ryuko for quite a while.

Now that her daughter was strong and mature enough to handle Junketsu, Ragyo showed Satsuki her greatest secret. It was the original life fiber, a giant bundle of an alien organism which gives Ragyo directives on how to steer the world to becoming completely controlled by life fibers. Ragyo came to Satsuki’s academy and tried to sacrifice the students and their families to the life fiber. That’s when it was finally time for Satsuki to launch her rebellion.

In one of the most epic scenes in all anime, Satsuki literally stabs her mother in the back and impales her on a cross. She then reveals that she’s been planning a rebellion for over 12 years to silence the life fibers and have revenge on Ragyo for killing her baby sister. A huge fight takes place in the academy. Satsuki’s forces team up with Ryuko and the Nudist Beach rebellion, since they all want to destroy life fibers and save the students.

Unfortunately for Satsuki, her revolution was not immediately successful. Millions of life fiber monsters rose up took over most of the world. In Japan, only one main rebel faction remained, the one established by Ryuko and Satsuki’s efforts. They were barely surviving, and Satsuki was held captive and tormented by Ragyo. But eventually, the tide starts to turn again for the rebels. The four generals rescued Satsuki. Afterward, Satsuki helped bring the raging, insane Ryuko back to her senses. It probably helped that she had discovered Ryuko was her little sister, who hadn’t died after all.

It was then time for the final battle: all of the rebellion’s forces, Satsuki, and Ryuko versus Ragyo and the giant life fiber. Satsuki’s role in the finale is actually pretty small. If you’ve seen the anime, you know the Ryuko wins, though at great personal cost. In one of the last scenes of Kill la Kill, Satsuki cuts off her long hair as a symbol of change and freedom. In the closing credits, we see a case where Satsuki came along on Ryuko and Mako’s date. Even though Satsuki’s role diminished in the last little section of the series, she still contributed to victory, and was rewarded with a happy ending.


Satsuki’s MBTI Type

“A skyscraper built within your mind will never fall down.”

Satsuki Kiryuuin

Satsuki is a great example of an INTJ anime character. I will describe her type first using the cognitive functions and then using the single-letter method. The INTJ’s cognitive functions are Ni, Te, Fi, and Se. Introverted intuition, or Ni, is concerned with constant flow of information, ideas, and potential meanings that happens in the INTJ’s head without them even trying hard at it. Meanwhile, extroverted thinking (Te) is about objective, reasonable decision-making and impartial analysis.

These two functions can be observed in Satsuki. She is a sharp person who constantly uses intuition as she subconsciously sorts through lots of information at a time. An example is Satsuki’s ability to stick to a huge plan for years at a time, using everything at her disposal to strengthen it while waiting for the ideal time. Additionally, Satsuki is a highly logical decision-maker who can make tough calls and execute potentially hurtful actions without emotional entanglement. Those with a strong Te function are both blessed and cursed; blessed because they are well-suited as leaders and bosses, and cursed because they often fail to consider the human elements like ethics and compassion.

This is all very true for Satsuki. Her domineering leadership choices were logical and produced impressive results, but she subjugated and hurt many students at the same time. Her system even led to the deaths of a few rebellious students, like the boy who stole a life fiber uniform in episode one. It’s difficult for Satsuki to finally come around to apologizing for any of these harmful effects.

Now let’s take a look at the single-letter method of character typing. Judging (J) is a trait associated with good planning, long-term thinking, organizational skills, and general thoroughness. That definitely describes Satsuki, who is a bit of a perfectionist and great at thinking ahead. Thinking (T) is very similar to Te in the cognitive functions; it’s all about logical decision-making with minimum influence of anyone’s personal feelings. It’s perfect for Satsuki.

Intuition (N) is a bit difficult to describe. I can only really define it by contrasting it with the alternate dimension, sensing (S). Intuitive people are better with theoretical topics and innovative ideas than Sensing people, who are better with hands-on projects, traditional methods, and practicality. While a sensing person is more likely to enjoy physical experiences and action, an intuitive person would prefer gathering knowledge and undertaking mental exercises.

I believe Satsuki is an intuitive type. Though logical, she is rarely practical. Her plans are often rather absurd, but they work because of all the thought she puts into it and the help she receives from her followers. Though Satsuki is a good fighter, it all comes from steeling herself mentally rather than natural physical talent. Maintaining a vision for the hazy future where she overthrows her mother is not something with which a sensing type would do well. So I think it’s pretty clear.

Satsuki is judging, thinking, and intuitive, which only leaves one dimension: I versus E. As most readers will know, introverts draw their energy from time alone, spending that energy on social interactions when necessary. Extroverts draw energy from their interactions with others, and spend mostly it on non-social tasks, work, and projects. Introverts typically have only a handful of friends, while extroverts have a large and diverse circle of friends. Sometimes, extroversion is associated with traits like charisma and confidence. But in reality, introverts can have just as much natural charisma, and they can be socially confident enough with practice. It’s worth noting that among all the introvert types, the INTJs and INFJs are the best with inspiring others using their words and mannerisms.

An argument may be made for Satsuki as an ENTJ, but the stronger case suggests INTJ. Satsuki is probably an introvert. She certainly has natural charisma and confidence, but she’s reserved and quiet when not giving speeches or dictating rules. I think she pushes herself a lot to be this sort of public figure at the academy. Last of all, Satsuki has a tiny friend group. She’s is familiar with anyone of note in the school, as well as people connected to her family and their businesses. But only her four generals could actually be considered her friends. Even with them, Satsuki maintains a certain distance.

Thus, it seems Satsuki is an INTJ by both methods of MBTI typing. This type has been given titles like “Strategist,” “Architect,” and “Mastermind.” In fiction, there are a lot of INTJ villains or INTJ characters with questionable values or loyalties. Obviously, though, this type isn’t a bad thing by necessity. Satsuki proves that INTJs can dedicate themselves entirely to a positive purpose. After all, Satsuki wants to get rid of life fibers enslaving humans, and save the world from life fiber monsters like Ragyo. In the end, she’s one of the “good guys.”


Satsuki’s General Personality

“I understand now. The world is not cut from the same cloth. It’s because it is overflowing with inexplicable, unidentifiable things that the world is so beautiful.”

Satsuki Kiryuuin

Assigning an MBTI type to a character can be useful, but we can also describe the character in more general terms, pointing out some things that the type analysis missed. Let’s begin looking at Satsuki’s personality traits.

Satsuki has a powerful presence. She is cool, confident, and commanding. Confidence is widely considered attractive, which is one reason why the self-assured Satsuki is admired by many. This woman tends to start taking charge the moment something needs to be done or a problem arises. While less experienced leaders can become easily upset or emotional, Satsuki is usually poised and collected with the reactions she presents. Her bearing is elegant, calm, and prepared. On a related note, this woman is surprisingly quiet when not giving orders or speeches. She only says what needs to be said. It’s rare for Satsuki to speculate or joke aloud.

It’s clear that Satsuki has above average intellect and ability to strategize. Her sharp mind lets her think outside the box as well, leading to creative solutions. She is notably quite a curious person, showing great interest in Ryuko and her progress, as well as organizing research on life fibers and goku uniforms. You could say she has an experimental mind. Besides being bright, Satsuki is also generally a very capable person. She trained herself to fight with a sword and to endure the strain of wearing a Kamui. If you combine her intellect with her determination and versatility, Satsuki is absolutely terrifying– and admirable.

There’s no shortage of courage in Satsuki’s mind and heart. She always goes bravely into battle. This courage goes hand in hand with another trait: determination. Satsuki is one of the most determined anime characters I know, and this determination is one of her finest defining features. This character worked undercover, plotting against her abusive and monstrous mother, for twelve years or more. She made it her life’s mission to overthrow Ragyo. She made countless sacrifices along the way, and forced herself to become the strongest of anyone. Satsuki’s burning will is majestic and immensely powerful.

Most of this has been positive so far, but Satsuki has a lot of flaws as well. To put it frankly, she’s incredibly arrogant. She sees herself as superior to others due to the nature of her ultimate goal. Intolerant of weakness and inefficiency, Satsuki is a highly prideful person. In addition, she tends to be dismissive of natural emotions and very critical in general. In order to do what she did, Satsuki had no choice but to build herself up to the very top in her own mind. She had to be the strongest to lead everyone else and complete her mission. However, that doesn’t mean it was right to be so forceful to the students or manipulate them however she wished.

Satsuki is definitely not perfect, but has many admirable personality traits. Although she is stubborn, this strong young woman is still very teachable. When she eventually admits to having done wrong at the academy, it’s quite moving. She also humbles herself and bows to Ryuko when asking for her help in defeating Ragyo. Finally, Satsuki learned by the end of the series that people’s differences are something to be celebrated. She made sure to embrace this, instead of being like Ragyo, who wanted to “smooth” everyone out into one kind of being. Propensity to learn is a great trait of Satsuki Kiryuuin.


Additional Character Insights

“What I’m showing isn’t tears, but tenacity! It doesn’t matter if it’s smashed to bits and pieces. So long as a single fragment of it remains, it will come back to life without a doubt.”

Satsuki Kiryuuin

In this final section, I want to mention a few specific insights into Satsuki and her development. I may add to this section in the future. First, I want to discuss Satsuki’s desire for revenge against her mother. As Satsuki herself asserts, “Great causes are always fueled by personal desire.” It can be easy to overlook this character’s personal investment given that her ultimate goal is for the good of everyone. Satsuki frequently makes reference to her grand aspirations and ambitions in a way that makes them sound impartial. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When Satsuki is launching her rebellion, she states that she wants revenge for her baby sister and her father, whom Ragyo supposedly killed (and did, in fact, attempt to kill). But besides this one line, it’s never mentioned again. Satsuki’s feelings in this case are kind of glossed over by the show. Obviously, part of that is because she discovers that her sister is alive and is none other than Ryuko. But we also don’t get to see much of Satsuki’s thought process on that. So just how important is the mention of avenging her family members?

I believe it’s extremely important. Although technically Satsuki would not have been old enough to remember her sister, I imagine her father told her the terrible story of what happened. Not long after Matoi told Satsuki everything, he died as well (or was presumed dead). This must have been traumatizing for Satsuki. The loss of a parent leaves a huge impact on almost anyone. In addition, it must have been disturbing to hear about her sister. The shock, grief, and anger were so powerful that they became Satsuki’s chief reasons to fight. Even though Satsuki did have times where she enjoyed her immense power at Hannouji Academy, the desire for power does not appear to have been her primary motivation. This may be a simple point, but I feel that some fans don’t really grasp it, so I had to emphasize it.

Satsuki’s revenge is about more than just her father and early trauma. I’m sure she also wants revenge on Ragyo for mistreating her for so long. Ragyo is incredibly selfish, manipulative, and psychologically abusive to be sure. But what some people manage to miss is the fact that she’s also sexually abusive.

There are several scenes in the anime where that is made clear. (Most notable is the infamous bath scene in the Kiryuuin manor.) During those scenes, Satsuki does not argue but also does not consent to be touched. The vibe it gives is that Satsuki is so used to it she no longer reacts. In addition, for her greater plan, she must always submit to Ragyo to avoid any kind of suspicion.

I felt it was necessary to point this out because it shows once again the amazing strength and determination of Satsuki. She underwent all this abuse for many years running, without ever resisting her evil mother. Satsuki is truly one of the mightiest anime characters that I know. And on that topic, there is one more thing to point out: Satsuki’s resistance to Junketsu.

Let me give a little reminder about Junketsu first. Both Junketsu and Senketsu are kamui, also known as god robes; they are made of 100% life fiber. Although Senketsu’s mind is far more advanced and communicative, both of these kamui possess wills of their own. Junketsu is a monstrous creature that drives its wearer mad while sapping their life force and humanity. Wearers will either die quickly or become rampaging monsters first. Only a person who is part life fiber themselves can wear Junketsu effectively while staying sane and human.

That’s not all. It seems that, in combination with Ragyo’s will and words, Junketsu can damage or alter the mind of even the strongest life fiber wearer. Ryuko was forced to wear Junketsu for a short while, and it turned her into a madly hedonistic and hateful person for that time. She even tried to kill her friends. It took immense effort from Satsuki, Senketsu, and Mako to bring Ryuko back to her senses. Then Ryuko immediately ripped Junketsu off herself.

Remember that Ryuko is a hybrid human and life fiber creature. She has human in her, but is inhuman at the same time. And look how much trouble she had with Junketsu. Well, Satsuki is almost entirely human. As far as we know she only has a life fiber toe nails and enhanced healing abilities. It’s true Satsuki trained herself from an early age to resist life fibers. Even so, the fact that she wears Junketsu and harnesses its powers so often in the series is mind-blowing. Mentally and physically, Satsuki is unconquerable.

In this section, we talked about Satsuki’s personal desire for revenge as well as two evidences of her amazing strength: her survival of sexual abuse and her ability to master Junketsu. That wraps up the topics I wanted to cover for now. I want to thank my subscribers and anyone else who took a look at this long article. I appreciate it! I hope you’ve enjoyed my Satsuki Kiryuuin character analysis.


PATREON

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